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School of International Service

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BA in International Studies

Drawing students from all over the world, AU's top-ranked SIS has the largest faculty and most comprehensive curriculum of any school of international affairs in the United States. With our D.C. location and a multidisciplinary approach that marries theory and practice, you won't find a better place to build your global practice of service.

Admission to the Program

Candidates for admission to the school must present evidence of excellent personal and academic qualifications. To be considered for freshman admission, an applicant should have earned at least a B average in secondary school. Cultural factors are considered in evaluating transcript and examination results. Other factors taken into account are leadership qualities, character, and personal interest. Students from other regionally-accredited collegiate institutions, and students in other programs at American University who have completed the freshman year, should maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale) to be considered for transfer to the school. 

University Requirements

  • A total of 120 credit hours 
  • 6 credit hours of college writing 
  • 3 credit hours of college mathematics or the equivalent by examination 

General Education Requirements

  • A total of ten courses, consisting of two courses from each of the five foundational areas
  • At least one course from Area Five: The Natural and Mathematical Sciences must include a laboratory science component
  • No more than two courses may be taken in the same discipline

Major Requirements

  • 57 credit hours plus 3–20 credit hours in foreign language course work (depending on language placement exam), with grades of C or better.

Students may apply up to 3 credit hours toward the major from an approved internship. Study abroad course credits may be used toward the major with the approval of the SIS undergraduate program director in consultation with teh SIS undergraduate studies committee.

Foundation Courses (21 credit hours)

  • ECON-100 Macroeconomics FA3 (3) 
  • ECON-200 Microeconomics FA4 (3)
  • SISU-050 SIS Mentorship Program (0) (not required for transfer students)
  • SISU-105 World Politics FA3 (3)
  • SISU-106 First Year Seminar (3)
  • SISU-140 Cross-Cultural Communication FA3 (3)
  • One course in U.S. politics from the following:
    • GOVT-110 Politics in the United States FA4 (3–4) 
    • GOVT-210 Political Power and American Public Policy FA4 (3)
    • GOVT-220 The American Constitution FA4 (3)
  • 3-6 credit hours from the following
    • SISU-300 Introduction to International Economics (3)
    • ECON-370 International Economics (3)
    • ECON-371 International Economics: Trade (3) and ECON-372 International Economics: Finance (3)
Note: If ECON-371 and ECON-372 are taken, ECON-372 may count toward the Global Economy thematic area

Foreign Language (3-20 credit hours)

  • 3-20 credit hours in one modern foreign language, depending on language placement exam. To demonstrate competency, at least one course must be completed at the fourth-semester level or above.

Research Methodology (6-7 credit hours)

  • SISU-206 Introduction to International Relations Research (3)
  • SISU-306 Advanced International Studies Research (3)

Thematic Areas (18 credit hours)

Students must take one gateway course in each of three different thematic areas for a total of 9 credit hours, and then take two additional courses in a primary thematic area and one additional course in a secondary thematic area for another 9 credit hours.

  • 9 credit hours of gateway courses from three different thematic areas
  • 6 additional credit hours from a primary thematic area
  • 3 additional credit hours from a secondary thematic area

In addition to the courses listed below, courses taken abroad may count toward the thematic area. Students should consult their academic advisor for details.


Peace, Global Security, and Conflict Resolution

Gateway Course

  • SISU-210 Peace, Global Security, and Conflict Resolution (3)

Thematic Area Courses

  • IBUS-471/MGMT-471 Peace through Entrepreneurship and Global Business Practicum (3)
  • RELG-475 Religion and Violence (3)
  • SISU-310 Topics in Peace, Global Security, and Conflict Resolution (3)
  • SISU-312 Governance, Development, Security in Asia (3)
  • SISU-313 Transatlantic Security (3)
  • SISU-316 United States-Russian/Eurasian Security Relations (3)
  • SISU-318 Topics in Global Security and Foreign Policy (3)
  • SISU-319 Arab-Israeli Relations (3)
  • SISU-393 International Relations Theory (3)
  • SISU-461 Topics in Peace, Global Security, and Conflict Resolution (3)
  • SISU-482 U.S.-China Relations (3)
  • SISU-483 Nuclear North Korea (3)
  • WGSS-350 Interpreting Gender in Culture: (topics) Gender and Violence (3)


The Global Economy

Gateway Course

  • SISU-220 International Political Economy (3)

Thematic Area Courses

  • ECON-332 Money, Banking, and Finance in the Global Economy (3)
  • ECON-351 Comparative Economic Systems (3)
  • ECON-372 International Economics: Finance (3)
  • ECON-458 Economics of the World Regions (3) (topics)
  • IBUS-300 Fundamentals of International Business (3)
  • MGMT-361 Global Entrepreneurship and Micro Enterprises (3)
  • SISU-320 Topics in Global Economy (3)
  • SISU-321 Political Economy of Africa (3)
  • SISU-324 Topics in Political Economy of Latin America (3)
  • SISU-328 Global Economy and Sustainable Development (3)
  • SISU-329 Global Economic Governance (3)
  • SISU-393 International Relations Theory (3)
  • SISU-462 Topics in Global Economy (3)


Foreign Policy and National Security

Gateway Course

  • SISU-230 Analysis of United States Foreign Policy (3)

Thematic Area Courses

  • ANTH-337 Anthropology of Genocide (3)
  • COMM-546 Foreign Policy and the Press (3)
  • GOVT-226 The Constitution, Presidential Power, and the War on Terror (3)
  • GOVT-464 Politics and Policy in the Electronic Age (3)
  • GOVT-465 Politics and the Internet (3)
  • GOVT-526 U.S. Intelligence Community (3)
  • GOVT-529 Principles of Homeland Security (3)
  • HIST-235 The West in Crisis, 1900-1945 FA2 (3)
  • HIST-445 Russian Studies: (topics) The Cold War and the Spy Novel (3)
  • HIST-461 U.S. Foreign Relations since 1918 (3)
  • HIST-500 Studies in History: (topics)
    • Early Modern European History (3)
    • World War I (3)
  • JLC-478 Investigating Terrorism (3)
  • JLC-585 Topics in Terrorism (3) (approved topic)
  • SISU-330 Topics in National Security and Foreign Policy (3)
  • SISU-332 Japanese Politics and Foreign Policy (3)
  • SISU-333 European Foreign and Security Policy (3)
  • SISU-334 U.S. Foreign Policy toward Latin America (3)
  • SISU-335 U.S. Foreign Policy toward the Middle East (3)
  • SISU-393 International Relations Theory (3)
  • SISU-463 Topics in Foreign Policy and National Security (3)
  • SISU-482 U.S.-China Relations (3)
  • SISU-483 Nuclear North Korea (3)
  • SPAN-559 Colloquium on Latin America: (topics) Conflict and Culture in the Andes (3)


Global Inequality and Development

Gateway Course

  • SISU-240 International Development (3)

Thematic Area Courses

  • ECON-318 Economic History (3)
  • ECON-361 Economic Development (3)
  • ECON-362 Macroeconomics of Economic Development (3)
  • ECON-363 Macroeconomics of Economic Development (3)
  • EDU-285 Education for International Development FA3 (3)
  • GOVT-235 Dynamics of Political Change FA3 (3)
  • HFIT-575 Global Health (3)
  • SISU-340 Topics in Global Inequality and Development (3)
  • SISU-343 Third World Cities (3)
  • SISU-348 Gender and Development (3)
  • SISU-349 Topics in Global Inequality, Development, Environmental Sustainability, and Global Health (3)
  • SISU-393 International Relations Theory (3)
  • SISU-395 Social Entrepreneurship (3)
  • SISU-464 Topics in Global Inequality and Development (3)
  • SOCY-365 Economic Development and Social Change (3)


Environmental Sustainability and Global Health

Gateway Course

  • SISU-250 Environmental Sustainability and Global Health (3)

Thematic Area Courses

  • CSC-310 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
  • SISU-350 Topics in Environmental Sustainability and Global Health (3)
  • SISU-352 Environmental Politics of Asia (3)
  • SISU-358 Global Health (3)
  • SISU-359 Environment, Conflict, and Peace (3)
  • SISU-465 Topics in Environmental Sustainability and Global Health (3)
  • SOCY-389 Society and the Global Environment (3)
  • SPA-370 American Environmental Policy and Politics (3)


Identity, Race, Gender, and Culture

Gateway Course

  • SISU-260 Identity, Race, Gender, and Culture (3)

Thematic Area Courses

  • AMST-340 Community Activism and Regional Studies (3) (approved topic)
  • ANTH-210 Roots of Racism and Interracial Harmony FA3 (3)
  • COMM-365 Digital Media and Culture (3)
  • COMM-354 Race and Gender in Communication and Media (3)
  • HFIT-540 Health Communication (3)
  • SISU-360 Topics in Identity, Race, Gender, and Culture (3)
  • SISU-363 Topics in Identity, Race, Gender, and Culture: Europe (3)
  • SISU-364 Topics in Identity, Race, Gender, and Culture: Latin America (3)
  • SISU-365 Topics in Identity, Race, Gender, and Culture: Middle East (3)
  • SISU-368 Differences and Similarities in Conflict Resolution (3)
  • SISU-369 Topics in Public Diplomacy (3)
  • SISU-393 International Relations Theory (3)
  • SISU-466 Topics in Identity, Race, Gender, and Culture (3)
  • SISU-485 Race and Ethnicity in Europe (3)
  • SOCY-210 Power, Privilege, and Inequality FA4 (3)
  • SOCY-310 Language, Culture, Power (3)
  • SOCY-351 Race and Ethnic Conflict: Global Perspective (3)
  • SOCY-553 Intersectionality: Theory and Research (3)


Justice, Ethics, and Human Rights

Gateway Course

  • SISU-270 Introduction to Human Rights (3)

Thematic Area Courses

  • PHIL-235 Theories of Democracy and Human Rights (3)
  • SISU-370 Topics in Justice, Ethics, and Human Rights (3)
  • SISU-372 Human Rights in East Asia (3)
  • SISU-374 Human Rights in Latin America (3)
  • SISU-375 Human Rights and Islam (3)
  • SISU-378 Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy (3)
  • SISU-379 Topics in Human Rights, Identity, and Culture (3)
  • SISU-393 International Relations Theory (3)
  • SISU-467 Topics in Justice, Ethics, and Human Rights (3)


Global and Comparative Governance

Gateway Course

  • SISU-280 International Organizations (3)

Thematic Area Courses

  • GOVT-315 Elections and Voting Behavior (3)
  • SISU-380 Topics in Global and Comparative GOvernance (3)
  • SISU-381 African Political Institutions (3)
  • SISU-383 Overview of the European Union (3)
  • SISU-385 Islam and Democracy (3)
  • SISU-386 Contemporary Africa (3)
  • SISU-387 Contemporary India (3)
  • SISU-393 International Relations Theory (3)
  • SISU-468 Topics in Global and Comparative Governance (3)
  • SISU-471 Topics in Africa (3)
  • SISU-472 Topics in East Africa (3)
  • SISU-473 Topics in Europe (3)
  • SISU-474 Topics in Latin America (3)
  • SISU-475 Topics in Middle East (3)
  • SISU-476 Topics in Russia (3)
  • SISU-477 Topics in South Asia (3)


 Regional Focus (9 credit hours)

  • Three courses in one of the following regional areas: Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Russia and Central Eurasia. At least one course must be taken at the 300 level or above.


  • ANTH-439 Culture, History, Power, Place (3) (approved topic)
  • GOVT-432 Political Institutions and Processes in Selected Countries (3) (approved topic)
  • GOVT-433 Topics in Sub-Saharan African Politics (3) (approved topic)
  • LIT-150 Third World Literature FA3 (3) 
  • LIT-225 The African Writer FA1 (3)
  • RELG-210 Non-Western Religious Traditions FA3 (3) 
  • SISU-211 Civilizations of Africa FA3 (3)

The Americas 

  • ANTH-439 Culture, History, Power, Place (3)
  • GOVT-450 Politics and Cuba (3)
  • HIST-241 Colonial Latin America (3) 
  • HIST-242 Latin America since Independence (3) 
  • HIST-440 Latin America Studies (3)
  • SISU-214 Contemporary Latin America (3)
  • SPAN-210 Latin America: History, Art, Literature FA3 (3)
  • SPAN-355 Spanish Introductory Topics (3)
  • SPAN-357 Introduction to Latin American Literature (3)
  • SPAN-456 Spanish Topics (3) (approved topic)


  • ANTH-230 India: Its Living Traditions FA3 (3)
  • ANTH-439 Culture, History, Power, Place (3)
  • HIST-250 Civilization and Modernization: Asia FA3 (3) 
  • HIST-447 Asian Studies (3)
  • RELG-185 The Religious Heritage of Asia (3) 
  • RELG-210 Non-Western Religious Traditions FA3 (3) 
  • RELG-473 Hinduism (3)
  • SISU-212 China, Japan and the United States FA3 (3)


  • FREN-431 Civilisation Francaise I (3)
  • FREN-432 Civilisation Francaise II (3)
  • FREN-433 French Topics (3)
  • GERM-336 German Topics (3)
  • GERM-438 German Civilization I (3)
  • GERM-439 German Civilization II (3)
  • GOVT-334 Modern British Politics (3) (study abroad)
  • HIST-110 Renaissance and Revolution: Europe, 1400 - 1815 FA2 (3)
  • HIST-204 Medieval Europe (3)
  • HIST-221 History of Britain I (3)
  • HIST-222 History of Britain II (3)
  • HIST-327 Twentieth Century Europe (3)
  • HIST-418 Nazi Germany (3)
  • HIST-419 Holocaust (3)
  • HIST-437 British Studies (3)
  • SISU-213 Contemporary Europe (3)

Middle East 

  • GOVT-432 Political Institutions and Processes in Selected Countries: Politics and Public Policy in Israel (3)
  • HIST-443 History of Israel (3) 
  • JLC-471 Evolution of Global Jihad (3)
  • JWST-205 Ancient and Medieval Jewish Civilization (3)
  • RELG-370 Islam (3) 
  • SISU-215 Contemporary Middle Eat (3)
  • SOCY-225 Contemporary Arab World FA3 (3) 

Russia and Central Eurasia 

  • HIST-225 Russia and the Origins of Contemporary Eurasia 3:2 (3)
  • HIST-231 The Russian Empire 1650-1917 (3) 
  • HIST-232 The Soviet Union (3) 
  • HIST-445 Russian Studies (3)
  • RUSS-200 Russia and the United States FA3 (3)
  • SISU-216 Contemporary Russia (3)


Senior Capstone (3 credit hours)
  • One 3-credit course from the following:
    • SISU-401 Public Diplomacy: Media, Culture, Power (3)
    • SISU-411 Senior Capstone: Africa (3)
    • SISU-412 Senior Capstone: East Asia (3)
    • SISU-413 Senior Capstone: Europe (3)
    • SISU-414 Senior Capstone: Latin America (3)
    • SISU-415 Senior Capstone: Middle East (3)
    • SISU-416 Senior Capstone: Russia (3)
    • SISU-417 Senior Capstone: South Asia (3)
    • SISU-419 Senior Capstone: International Studies (3)
    • SISU-420 Senior Capstone: Global Scholars (3)
    • SISU-421 Senior Capstone: Peace, Global Security, and Conflict Resolution (3)
    • SISU-422 Senior Capstone: Global Economy (3)
    • SISU-423 Senior Capstone: Foreign Policy and National Security (3)
    • SISU-424 Senior Capstone: Global Inequality and Development (3)
    • SISU-425 Senior Capstone: Environmental Sustainability and Global Health (3)
    • SISU-426 Senior Capstone: Identity, Race, Gender, and Culture (3)
    • SISU-427 Senior Capstone: Justice, Ethics, and Human Rights (3)
    • SISU-428 Senior Capstone: Global and Comparative Governance (3)
    • SISU-430 Comparative Social Movements (3)

Concurrent Degree

Students in the BA in International Studies program have the opportunity to coordinate their coursework on a particular topic or area of the world, linking coursework in Thematic Areas (and in some cases, Regional Focus courses) with the Senior Capstone, to complete a concurrent certificate program. Students must be officially enrolled to earn a certificate, and completed certificates are noted on the student transcript. For more information, consult an academic advisor and the SIS Undergraduate Program Director.

University Honors Program

All University Honors students must complete at least 12 credit hours of advanced-level (300-level and above) Honors courses including a 3 to 6 credit hour Honors Senior Capstone Project. Students may graduate with University Honors in the major if they complete at least 12 advanced-level Honors courses including the Senior Capstone Project in the department. Each department has three levels of University Honors requirements: Level I Options (100-200-level Honors classes); Level II Options (300-level and above Honors classes); and Level III Options (Honors Senior Capstone). The department Honors coordinator advises students in the University Honors Program regarding departmental options. 

Combined B.A. in International Studies and Master’s Degree

American University offers students the opportunity to earn both undergraduate and graduate degrees through its accelerated bachelor’s/master’s programs. Undergraduate students may complete up to 3 credits for every 9 credits required for the graduate degree that may be applied to the requirements for both degree programs. The department that oversees the graduate program the student enters will determine if the courses the undergraduate student completes will satisfy master’s degree requirements. 

Bachelor’s/master’s students must complete at least 18 in-residence credit hours at the graduate level after the bachelor’s degree is earned and maintain continuous, sequential enrollment in the two programs. 

This program enables highly qualified students to earn both a B.A. in International Studies and an M.A. in International Affairs, International Communication, International Development, or International Peace and Conflict Resolution.  

Course Requirements

  • Admission to the combined B.A./M.A. program requires junior or senior standing, a cumulative grade point average of 3.50, a minimum 3.50 grade point average in SIS courses, a formal application, a written faculty recommendation, and an essay on the student’s academic interests and abilities in international affairs. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required. Interested students should contact the SIS Graduate Admissions Office. 
  • All requirements for the B.A. in International Studies 

Undergraduate students may apply up to 12 credit hours of approved graduate-level course work to satisfy the requirements for both degrees. 

  • All requirements for the M.A. in International Affairs, M.A. in International Communication, M.A. in International Development, or M.A. in International Peace and Conflict Resolution, including a minimum of 18 credit hours completed in residence in graduate status after the undergraduate degree has been awarded. Students must finish the master’s degree requirements within three years from the date of first enrollment in the master’s program.